Divided We Stand: A Guide to Partitioning Your Hard Drive

Jul 21, 2011

Want to make your computer faster, easier to manage, and able to share data more securely? Dividing your hard drive into smaller sections called partitions can make your computer more manageable. Windows® 7 comes with an easy-to-use disk management tool that will help you partition your drive—and you won’t have to buy additional software.

Partition Logic

Why partition a drive? Here are a few common reasons:

  • More than one person uses the computer and you want to keep separate files—and access rights—for security reasons. Partitioning can be particularly helpful when you share a PC with a child.
  • You want to squeeze more performance out of your PC. Partitioning a large drive into smaller units improves performance by decreasing the amount of travelling the drive’s read/write head has to do when it searches for data. A partition also shrinks the size of the tables the computer uses to keep track of where data is stored, further improving performance.
  • You want to make your system more manageable. If you keep your operating system and applications on a partition separate from your data, the data will be easier to back up and easier to restore. What’s more, if you need to reinstall the operating system, you can do it without worrying about the data on the other partition.
  • You want to make your data more secure. If part of your hard drive becomes corrupted or infected with malware, the other partitions have a good chance of remaining unscathed.

Step by Step

Partitioning a hard drive is simplest if you haven’t already loaded applications and data, so if you’ve just purchased your PC, now is the time to do it. However, you can do it at any time. Just be sure you do a complete backup before you start.

To turn one partition into two partitions:

1. Open the Control Panel, Administrative Tools and click Computer Management.
2. Double-click Storage in the middle pane, and then double-click Disk Management
3. "Disk 0" represents your primary hard drive. If your drive has not been partitioned, the C: drive will fill most or all of the space
4. Right-click on the C: drive or on unpartitioned space and click "Shrink Volume." (Windows refers to partitions as volumes.) Windows will you for the amount of space you wish to shrink; this will become the amount of space available for the new partition. Choose an amount that matches the amount of data you expect to store there: Less for
5. Follow the s to complete the shrink function.
6. You will now have unpartitioned space in which you can create a second partition. Right-click in this unallocated space and click "New Simple Volume." Follow the s to set the size of the partition and assign a drive letter to this space.
7. Finally, you will be ed to format the new partition you’ve made. Select OK at the s to complete the format operation. Your new partition is ready to use.

For more help on disk partitioning, consult this guide

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